Embodiment of the Divine
Images of the human body shown today stage it as a means of
expressing individuality and personality. We dress, shape and
present it in the way we want to be seen and, above all, it should
stand for one thing - ourselves.
Is there an alternative to this subjective and profane view of the
body? What role did and does it play in other societies and
especially in religious contexts?
This short video shows how different corporeality can be seen in
approaches of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.
The following video only touches on these contexts. If you are
interested in a follow-up on this topic, please leave a comment
under the video. The more people are interested, the more likely I
am to offer a more in-depth version.
For now, have a good time with this one:
The Body in Religious Art and Architecture
What are our ideas of other cultures? How much of them remain
superficial and what knowledge do we really have about them? Are we
influenced by the short presentations and reports of the daily
The process, which is commonly described today as 'cultural
appropriation', can consist of the adoption of superficial features
as well as the selected reproduction of knowledge and is an integral
part of human history.
All world religions and bigger cultures use a potpourri of images,
symbols and stories from many smaller traditions. The aesthetic
takeover of so-called 'orientalisms' is particularly pronounced.
Especially since the modern era, wealthy and powerful Europeans have
been portrayed in oriental attire.
Portrait of Ferdinando II. de Medici Dressed in Oriental Costume,
Justus Sustermans, c.1640, Galleria Palatina, Florence.
Sultans Wife Drinking Coffee (Mme de Pompadour), Carle van Loo,
1747, Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg.
What was particularly important here was the visual comparison of
cultures. Either the dark-skinned servants were accommodated
directly, or the European image tradition was maintained in such way
that the oriental clothing and furniture were clearly recognizable
as accessories, as additions that were intended to demonstrate the
cultural reach of the person portrayed. This reach did not
exclusively, but most notably, due to the economic and political
colonization of other cultures, which, without such a strong urge to
expand, had correspondingly less reach. Napoleon Bonaparte's
(1769-1721) campaigns in particular initiated a state-controlled
production of both scientific and artistic representations.
Inscribed in these images, we often see this hierarchical
relationship between cultures and a stereotypical view of living in
But there were aswell artists who dared to obtain and reproduce a
more comprehensive picture; venturing on trips to the so-called
'Orient' and even converting to Islam (like the French artist
Etienne, called Nasreddinne, Dinet (1861-1929).
View of Palm-Groves Laghouat, Etienne Dinet, c. 1890, Private
The renowned Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) also made several trips to
North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. His paintings reflect
his concern for close observation, both of people and of handicrafts
and architecture. In some places he also takes up the mystical
character of oriental fairy tales.
Women of Algiers in their Apartment, Eugène Delacroix, 1834, Musée
du Louvre, Paris.
The Death of Sardanalpalus, Eugène Delacroix, 1827, Musée du
The literary scholar and cultural theorist Edward Said describes
this so-called 'orientalism' in more detail and formulates
critically how the political West views other cultures.
In this regard, this video provides more information:
Orientalism and Art History - Edward Said's Theory
This eCourse, which deals extensively with political backgrounds and
artistic interpretations, offers more on the subject of orientalism
in European art:
Orientalism in European Art History - Udemy Kurs